Sorry this has taken so long. I’m having to finish the design for the potential exhibit in the next two weeks, and a few other, family related issues have swallowed my time. I am sorry, I’ve been hating how little time I’ve had to devote to this blog lately.
But I hope the following will at least partially make up for the prolonged absence.
First, I thought for those who have never taken a look at Midway Atoll, that you might be interested in just how Flier wound up grounded at Midway when so many other submarines came in and out of Midway all through WWII with little trouble. I ended up doing a lot of research to help myself out here, and I’m indebted to Michael Sturma of Murdoch University in Australia not only for his excellent book, USS Flier: Death and Survival on a WWII Submarine, but also because he kindly forwarded a digital copy of the JAG investigation and transcript into this incident.
Reading about this incident in the Deck Logs and Sturma’s book was one thing, reading it, in the men’s own words, was another thing completely. It brought new insights I hadn’t thought of. Between the Deck Logs, the JAG Transcript and Sturma’s book, I put together a little video about how, exactly, Flier ended up on the reef.
Following this incident, and the tow back to Pearl, Crowley would be found responsible for Flier’s damage, but then again, a skipper is responsible for his ship and all of his crew. He could have been asleep when this happened, and still be found responsible. The fact that the investigation panel decided that even though he was responsible, it was through no fault of his own, nor negligence, or anything that could be helped. In short, he’s responsible, but only because he had to be found such. They permitted him to retain command of Flier, which says a lot about their opinion of his command abilities, and I’m sure, was a great vote of confidence for Crowley himself.
Jim Alls was on that patrol the day Flier ran aground. For those who don’t know, Mr. Alls came to the Flier Memorial service in Muskegon this past August. To my knowledge, he’s the only known Flier crewman still alive. He was there the day she was commissioned and is listed among the commissioning crew, and remained with her until just a few days before Flier left Fremantle on her final, fateful patrol. The only reason he didn’t go with her was he had his jaw smashed in by a New Zealand soldier a few days before departure. All submariners are still required to be in peak condition before leaving on patrol, so Alls was left behind in Freo, with a retainer on him so he would re-join Flier’s crew as soon as he was cleared and she was back in port.
And of course, she never came back.
He’s amazing. I mean, here’s a guy who lies about his age to join the military at 15 years old (making him 16 years old when this happens) then spends the next several years on the most dangerous and complicated equipment in the world in the middle of a war zone. He has a great memory too, especially about these guys. I got to interview him and his wife back in November, and he told story after story, about the men, gilly, Panama, Pearl Harbor, poker games, working in the engine rooms, and on and on and on. Just incredible.
Since he was there the day they were at Midway, I asked him about it. The thing that stuck out most in his mind was the surgery performed on Waite Daggy, and the burial of James Cahl. I’m still working on the Cahl film, but here, in the words of someone who was there, is how surgery ended up being performed on a grounded submarine being thrashed by a winter storm.
And because I just can’t help myself, here’s a funny little bit about what happens when you screw up a Christmas Turkey on a submarine…
In case you’re wondering, I tend to complete these and upload them to YouTube as I find time, but it may be a while before they show up here. As a result, all three of these movies have been available for two days to two weeks. If you’re interested in seeing them as soon as I upload them, you can subscribe to the ussflierproject account, and YouTube will keep you advised as to when I upload these. I will eventually feature them here, as I can and it fits, but there you go.